I spend a lot of time soaking in the tub, partly because I blew a bunch of dough on a bathroom remodel and I’m trying to get my money’s worth. But it is a productive time – most of my blog articles were conceived in that tub.
But I may have ruined my thinking time by installing an Apple TV in tub-viewing position. Now I regularly watch or listen to Radiolab, Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, and TED talks. Coincidentally, my favorite TED talk so far is Susan Cain’s discussion of introverts and the power of just being by yourself and thinking, a highly underrated practice. Her stories of childhood reminded me of mine – I still recall attending a summer camp on Catalina Island, where I sat at a picnic table reading a book while the other kids were splashing around at the beach. That was perfectly fine with me, but a well-intentioned elderly couple reported me to the camp counselors, thinking I was miserable and left out.
So I relate to Cain’s plea for the case of the introvert, but I would go the extra step and make the case against extroverts, at least in the corporate setting. Extroverts are great to have around when you’re meeting for drinks after work – you can always count on them for great stories, but at work those stories can turn a one-hour meeting into a three-hour meeting (especially if the person running the meeting is an extrovert – I once spent three hours listening to a salesman-turned-CEO talk about “want vs. need” without making a decision). Try getting work done in a cubicle-farm with an extrovert nearby (never, ever, seat the PR person near the programmers) And what happens when you have more than one person who has to be the center of attention? It gets ugly. And loud. Meanwhile, the introverts are quietly updating their resumes, fantasizing about job descriptions that say, “extroverts need not apply.”